The conservative House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday endorsed little-known Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) for Speaker — a bold move that raises serious doubts about whether Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy can cobble together the 218 votes on the House floor he needs to be promoted.
McCarthy, a five-term California Republican, is expected to easily win the nomination when House Republicans huddle at noon Thursday to pick a successor to outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
But the true test will come Oct. 29, when the House holds a public roll call vote to formally elect the next Speaker.
The Freedom Caucus, led by Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), holds enough votes to essentially veto a McCarthy Speakership, though it’s unclear whether all members would cast their ballots the same way.
No one can be elected Speaker unless they win 218 votes.
“I think he’s over the 200 hump, but that’s not the hump,” said Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.), a McCarthy backer who acknowledged the leader still has a steep climb.